Squeeze – ‘The Knowledge’ reviewed

Deptford’s finest are back, refusing to rest on their laurels.

The reformed Squeeze return to the music world with their second album of new tracks this century. The Knowledge is both Squeeze flexing their musical muscles with interesting departures from familiar territory and Squeeze remaining true to their roots.  An interesting combination and not many bands would have the musical chops to pull it off.

The Knowledge opens with two tracks Innocence in Paradise and Patchouli which set the scene for their forays into a different world.  Innocence in Paradise features pedal steel and a definitely American feel, which could wrong foot the unsuspecting Squeeze fan. Patchouli has a hippy tone and even though it namechecks Greenwich’s Maryon Wilson Park, it still has a transatlantic vibe to it, so it is not until the third track A&E that we are back in familiar squeeze territory.  A&E is a raw indictment of the lamentable underfunding of the NHS with catchy hooks and an earnest vocal.

Rough Ride opens with South London based choirs and an Operetta-style solo, marking again a band that is still willing to try new ideas and spread its wings. The subject matter is quintessentially Squeeze though as it laments the struggles of living in London, and the juxtaposition of familiar and strange works well in a lush and hopeful song.

The band aren’t afraid to tackle difficult subjects and this is something that sets them apart from many bands.  On Final Score they draw attention to schoolboy footballers abused by their coaches and later, on a deceptively jolly tune called Please Be Upstanding they cover the problem of erectile dysfunction. Please Be Upstanding has the hooks to be a strong single, if the radio stations have the balls to play it!

Albatross is again Squeeze entering sensitive territory though for different reasons.  Here they deal with the subject of veteran obsessive record collectors and why they collect what they do.  The theory seems to be one of nostalgia and being taken back to better times.  The tune is good with plenty of memorable hooks, and probably should please some of those veteran record collectors, though those without a sense of humour might look slightly askance at it.

The final track is the jaunty pop ska track Two Forks detailing the long-term relationship between Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook that has resulted in the creative outpouring of Squeeze over the years. It is a suitable ending for an album that marks 44 years since the two began their song writing partnership.

It is a strong album, as one would really expect from such pop alumni’s with so much talent at their disposal, but it’s the joy of playing and composing together that comes through on this record.  They could have produced something more mundane and ‘Squeeze by numbers’ than what they have put together.  This is an uplifting and exuberant offering which gives more on subsequent listens. If you like Squeeze then this should be on your list to pick up as soon as possible.  They are also currently on tour so if you are lucky you may be able to hear some of this album live in the very near future.

Squeeze – ‘The Knowledge’ was released on 13 October 2017. Order the brand new album here: https://lnk.to/SQUEEZE

Become a patron at Patreon!